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Passenger with ‘no idea how to fly’ lands plane in Florida after pilot falls ill

In what seems to be straight out of a movie scene, a passenger with no flying experience landed a small plane safely in Florida after the pilot fell ill. The passenger managed to land the plane with the help of air traffic controllers.

“I’ve got a serious situation here,” the passenger said, according to audio on LiveATC.net, a website that broadcasts and archives air traffic controller communications. “My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly an airplane.”

Read: As scary as Runway 34: Passengers on SpiceJet horror flight recount narrow escape

When an air traffic controller in Fort Pierce asked him if he knew the position of the single-engine Cessna 280, the passenger said, “I have no idea. I can see the coast of Florida in front of me, and I have no idea.”

The aircraft was occupied by the pilot and two passengers, according to a statement by the Federal Aviation Administration. Officials haven’t identified any of them.

As the plane flew over Florida, controller Christopher Flores, who was guiding the passenger, told him to “maintain wings level and try to follow the coast, either north or southbound.” Twin controls enable a Cessna 280 to be steered from the passenger seat.

Minutes passed before controllers could locate the plane, which by then was heading north over Boca Raton.

When the passenger’s voice started to fade, the controller asked for the number of his mobile phone for better communication.

Read: Cargo plane breaks in two during emergency landing in Costa Rica | VIDEO

Air traffic controller Robert Morgan, a 20-year veteran, took over at that point, talking the passenger down to a safe landing. Morgan is a certified flight instructor with experience piloting Cessna aircraft.

“Kudos to the new pilot,” one controller told him after the plane smoothly wheeled down the tarmac.

Rescue workers assisted the original pilot, officials said. Neither passenger had any injuries. Officials did not immediately say what caused the pilot to fall ill.

Morgan said he was just doing his job, but at a higher level than he thought he would have to do it. “We’ve never had anything like that,” Morgan said. “I felt like I was in a movie.”

(With inputs from AP)

See: World’s largest plane destroyed by Russian troops in Ukraine | PICS

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